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Licitar making

1MAKING THE DOUGH

The primary components of gingerbread cakes are plain flour, licitar yeast and sugar. Skillful hands will turn those humble ingredients into beautiful licitars, much as the ugly duckling turned into a graceful and beautiful swan.

2ROLLING OUT THE DOUGH

Having been set aside for a few hours, the dough is rekneaded with the skillful and warm hands of a licitar maker. Lightly floured, it is rolled out on the table with a rolling pin.

3MAKING LICITARS USING LICITAR MOULDS

To turn the rolled out dough into beautiful, eye-catching, and easily recognizable shapes, licitar makers use handmade moulds made of coppered tin. Families who have traditionally been in the licitar making business jealously guard their moulds, passing them from generation to generation.

4LINING UP THE HEARTS TAKEN OUT OF THE MOULDS

Diligent hands cut mould-shaped licitars out of the dough, lining them up one by one on the table.

5HEART-SHAPED LICITARS LINED UP ON THE TABLE

Taken out of the moulds, heart-shaped licitars await those same diligent hands to place them on the greased and floured pan and put them into a pre-heated 300 degree oven. When baked, hearts are patted to remove the extra flour and set aside for a few days.

6TICKING THE HEARTS TOGETHER

The hearts being dry, skillful hands of a licitar maker stick them together two by two…

… inserting a piece of red and white strand in between. Since red and white are the two colours of the Croatian coat of arms, they make licitar as authentic a souvenir as can be.

8EARTS STUCK TOGETHER, AWAITING COLOURING

Having been stuck together, licitar hearts are ready to get decorated…

…and acquire the appearance which makes them a popular gift among young people opening their hearts to each other.

10COLOURING

Dissolve gelatin in water, stir and steam-cook until slightly thickened. Add edible red colour and start decorating the forthcoming Croatian souvenir. Dip smaller licitars carefully in the prepared icing, take them out and set aside to get dry.

11_malaDRYING

Basic colouring being done, the hearts in the colour of love are set aside for a day or two to get dry.

Lined up next to each other, awaiting further decorations, they offer a pleasurable sight.

14DRAWING LINES

We have reached the point of decorating or adorning licitar hearts. Water, sugar syrup, gelatin, potato flour and edible colours are mixed together and put in a decorating tube. Gently holding a single cake with their fingertips, licitar makers decorate it squeezing the mixture out. The tube tips are changed depending on the shapes they want to create. When the decorations get dry, the process of licitar making has reached its end. Still …

15ADDING A MIRROR

Each licitar heart can be more beautiful and richly decorated in a simple way: by adding a small mirror. The mirror reflects the reality, leaving a touch of light in the souls of those looking at themselves in it, surfacing the emotions of the near and dear and letting them speak their truth …

17So, what else is to be done? What are we to do to revive the olden days? We have to adorn the hearts adding ever more and more decorations. They have to be embellished with beautiful tendril-like lines and variously coloured flowers which can also be reflected in the mirror. We can hang the hearts on their strands or simply hold them on our palms, which soak up their sweet fragrance and bestow peace upon them. The humble licitar heart gets the door to one’s heart open, softens the soul and brings emotions to the surface. The warmth and affection such a gift shows to our friends make them even more supportive and caring. And finally, those very hearts convert the cry of our ancestors into happiness for keeping their memory alive.